Internet Explorer is not officially supported, please try these modern browsers:

Back to Top

Designing Mixed Generational Multi-Family Buildings


The apartment market represents a vigorous $1.1 trillion industry, housing 35+ million renters nationwide.  Such a competitive environment demands that apartment building owners provide quality housing along with truly innovative products, services, and amenities. According to, nearly 60% percent of respondents prefer to rent, since this provides them an opportunity to enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle combined with convenient access to amenities.

By 2015, there will be 67 million people aged 20 to 34 (the prime years for renting) and 12.4 million empty nesters who will also be seeking opportunities to rewind; not just wind down. The younger generations may not be able to afford to buy a home or may choose the flexibility of rental housing versus homeownership. Today’s Empty Nesters are healthier and more active than any time in the past and many will opt to rent, preferring simple luxury living that comes without the burdens of homeownership. At first appearance, these groups seem to have different needs.

In actuality, the amenities that both groups look for in a property are quite similar. Transcending age, today’s educated renter expects a multitude of amenities including fitness centers, business centers, dog walks, pet spas, socially-active lounges and lobbies, club-rooms, game rooms, bike storage, and workshop, as well as great outdoor living spaces and swimming pools…all with an atmosphere that equals the quality of a fine hotel. So the idea is not to necessarily target a specific age group but to design for people of different generations with common interests.

Millennials, Generation Y, Eco-Boomers and Empty Nesters alike have demonstrated that they prefer hanging-out in groups and like to participate in social activities frequently. Yet people also want to feel comfortable spending time alone in public areas. Whether indoors or out, defined intimate spaces provide cozy areas for groups as well as for the resident who is solitary yet prefers a social setting.  Regardless of age, amenities with options for both singles and groups create socially-active spaces that provide a sense of home and community.

Opening in November of 2013, the Avant at Reston Town Center, has demonstrated that a mixed-generational design approach is successful.  Rich Ellis from Boston Properties says “The vision for the Avant, architecturally and operationally, was developed with a multi-demographic focus.  Market studies and the Company’s experience in the Town Center told us that the project would attract a wide range of prospects, from young professionals to empty nesters to divorcees to corporate users seeking a home 5 nights a week. The goal was to create a community and building that made each of these groups feel comfortable while also tapping into their shared interests. 

Realizing that the mixed-generational trend in housing will continue into the future, at HDG, our design approach for residential buildings is creative, holistic and practical.  Considering the needs of various age groups is important, yet finding the common thread allows for design that will bring generations together.